The occupation troops of Northern General Ambrose Burnside at New Bern in mid-1862 not only loaded their empty transports with furniture, carpets and jewelry for the return trip North, but also found New Bern cemeteries full of coffins to appropriate. Even Lincoln’s hand-picked proconsul, Edward Stanly, who was appointed “governor” of North Carolina, resigned in disgust after observing the looting by Northern soldiers.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
The Governor’s Coffin
Richard Dobbs Spaight (1796-1850), son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was also a member of the North Carolina Legislature, United States Congressman and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, served as governor of The Old North State from 1835 to 1837.
He was born in New Bern, and prior to being governor, he served in the State Legislature from 1819 to 1822, and again from 1825 to 1834. Spaight was the last governor to be elected by the legislature, and was a member of the 1837 Constitutional Convention which transferred the gubernatorial election to popular vote. During the War Between the States, Northern occupation troops used the Stevenson House (corner Pollock & George Streets) in New Bern as a hospital for wounded soldiers.
In a truly unbelievable act of barbarism, “the body of Governor Spaight was dug up by Northern soldiers, the skull placed on a gate post, and the metal coffin used to send the body of a federal soldier back North.”
(A New Geography of North Carolina, Bill Sharpe, Sharpe’s Publishing Company 1961, page 1232)